12 Sugar Substitutes For Baking

Mary and Brenda Maher

By Brenda & Mary

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Sugar is, no doubt, the soul of any sweet treat that boosts our happy hormones. But its role is not as simple as a sweetener; it adds moisture and softness, liquefies during baking, lengthens the shelf life of finished goods, and caramelizes at high temperatures.

Different sugar with bowls.

Bakers cannot simply swap out sugar for another sweetener because of these essential roles. But what happens if you accidentally open an empty jar? I have compiled the 12 best sugar alternatives for baking to save you a trip to the supermarket!

12 Substitute Sweeteners For Sugar In Baking

1. Applesauce Or Mashed Bananas

Do you know that some fruits are great for adding sweetness to a dish without requiring additional sweetener? My go-to method is to utilize the natural sweetness of fruit with applesauce or mashing bananas instead of highly processed sweets. 

You just need to add half the quantity of sugar recommended in the form of your preferred fruit, when replacing. For instance, use half a cup of applesauce instead of a cup of regular sugar.

It goes without saying that mashed bananas will give your dessert a pronounced banana taste, so keep that in mind. Additionally, because both fruits are quite moisturizing, I recommend using less milk or oil and other moist components overall. 

In fact, applesauce may be used in several recipes in place of oil exactly 1:1. Fruit purees are excellent in donuts, muffins, cakes, and quick breads, but they are less effective in crunchy cookies or airy angel cakes.

2. Agave Syrup

Agave syrup

You may use less agave syrup to get the same sweetness as traditional sugar because it is around 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. This syrup is easy to use and flexible. For example, I find it brings a great taste for sweetening hot beverages, oatmeal, and baked goods.

My motto when using this substance is to use slightly less agave. In particular, I have to reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup and 2/3 cup for every cup of sugar. Also, one more thing I have to warn you is that due to agave’s greater sensitivity to heat and easier burning than natural sugar, you need to lower the temperature by 25 degrees.

3. Honey

Honey has a wealth of health advantages in addition to being delicious! Before consuming it, try different amounts of honey to see what works best for you. Different bakers have their own preferences. I like to use one cup of honey for every cup of sugar. Meanwhile, my mom, also a wonderful baker, tends to swap half a cup.

Anyway, the quantity of liquid used in your baking recipe must be decreased. You get more moisture and faster browning when you use honey instead of sugar. For people with diabetes, honey should still be used in moderation, much like ordinary sugar, even if honey has fewer calories, fructose, and glucose.

4. Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

You should use maple syrup sparingly since it contains a significant amount of sugar. However, substituting sugar with maple syrup may reduce your sugar intake by around 33%, as it contains minerals like antioxidants, potassium, calcium, and iron.

With a glycemic index level of 54 compared to table sugar’s 65, this type of syrup is also less harmful to your blood sugar. I sometimes add a little amount of maple syrup to my homemade dairy-free milk to make it sweeter, and the results turn out quite pleasing!

5. Molasses


Molasses, the residue of sugar refinement, is unparalleled in richness and complexity. It gives dishes more depth, especially those involving cookies, barbecue sauces, and gingerbread. Additionally, molasses contains important minerals like calcium and iron. 

Notice that molasses adds a subtle black color to baked foods. It’s not as sweet as white sugar, so you should substitute 1 and ⅓ cups for each cup in your initial recipe.

Since molasses is a liquid alternative, you must reduce the amount of other liquid components in the recipe. I often add 4 tablespoons of regular flour for every cup of molasses to make up for the additional moisture. Additionally, always use light molasses since black molasses becomes harsh when baked.

6. Corn Syrup

Corn Syrup

Known as an “inverted sugar,” corn syrup is helpful in baking and cooking since it doesn’t crystallize like other sugars. Unlike honey or molasses, corn syrup has less sweetness than sugar and doesn’t impart taste.

Corn syrup has a 30 to 50 percent sweetness level when compared to table sugar. Thus, I often use half a cup of corn syrup for every cup of sugar in my recipe. 

This substance is mostly utilized for functional purposes rather than flavor, such as adding gloss to foods like chocolate ganache or preventing crystallization in items like ice cream, sorbet, and candy.

7. Stevia

Because it’s sugar-free, it makes a great baking sugar alternative for health-conscious bakers out there. Though it’s several times sweeter than cane or granulated sugar, exercise caution when substituting this.

For every cup of sugar content called for in the recipe, start with one teaspoon of powdered stevia. Moreover, stevia has a little herbal flavor that may be a bit odd at first. It is a great alternative to sugar in any dish, although it does take some getting used to.

8. Coconut Sugar

coconut sugar

Standard table sugar and other processed sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, provide “empty” calories as they lack essential elements. I enjoy using coconut sugar in my baking since it has a lower glycemic index and retains a significant amount of the nutrients present in coconut palms. This is the first thing I usually look for when I don’t want to use conventional manufactured sugar.

Like the other alternatives, coconut palm sugar may be used 1:1 instead of sugar and has a naturally occurring taste similar to malty brown sugar. Thus, coconut sugar works really well as a brown sugar alternative.

9. Refined Fructose

Refined fructose is sweeter than granulated sugar. When substituting it in baking recipes, you just need to add one-third less. According to some taste testers, fructose-based goods taste sweet but can taste a touch flat.

Foods sweetened with fructose tend to be moist because fructose draws more water than sucrose. When I use this white sugar substitute, my sweat treats come out of the oven with a deeper color. You can buy fructose at health food stores.

10. Brown Rice Malt Syrup

Although this brown sugar syrup is widely regarded as natural, gluten-free, vegan, and free of the infamous fructose, its health benefits are negligible compared to those of refined sugars. Brown rice malt syrup is made of glucose, complex carbs, and maltose. It has an amber color and tastes similar to honey, although it’s not as sweet.

Granulated sugar can be replaced cup for cup. However, the liquid components must be decreased by one-fourth cup for every cup of brown rice syrup cooked. The batter will typically liquefy when using enzyme-treated syrup instead of malted syrup.

11. Fruit Juice Concentrates

Fruit concentration is essentially fruit without the water, as opposed to fruit juice, which includes additional sugar. Additionally, you may use it to give your sweets the inherent sweetness of fruit. Yes, any fruit! Fruit juice concentrates prepared from grapes, oranges, or apples can easily substitute for sugar, much like mashed bananas or applesauce.

For every cup of sugar required, use roughly 3/4 cup of the mixture; to account for the excess liquid, remove around 3 tablespoons of the liquid of your choice from the recipe. If your recipe calls for a fruity taste, this is the ideal sugar replacement in baking.

12. Date Sugar

Like coconut sugar, date sugar is derived from palm trees since it is the fruit of the date plant. Date sugar is healthier than regular white sugar as a granulated sugar substitute in baking because it contains fiber, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Additionally, because it’s sweeter than regular white sugar, you should only substitute two-thirds of a cup for each cup of brown or white sugar in a recipe.

One thing I want to make clear is that date sugar may absorb moisture rather well. That means you will need to use more liquid ingredients when using this option in place of sugar for baking. In my experience, I find this ingredient works wonders for chocolate-baked dishes.

The list should go on, my fellow bakers! There is no shortage of sweeteners in the world of baking, so go find the best one for your treats!

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Mary and Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher

Mary & Brenda Maher, are the founders of Cake Girls, a Chicago-based online baking shop specializing in cake supplies, party decor, and DIY cake tutorials. They are known for their elaborate and artistic cake creations, which have been featured on the Food Network Challenge and in a reality show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

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